BES870 - fine tuning advice
I've had the Breville BES870 for 3-4 weeks now and am loving it, but am wondering if I can perfect my cup further.
I only use the double basket, as the single was inconsistent and I just couldn't pull a good shot. It hasn't been an issue though, as it's rare for me to only make one cup anyway. I haven't used freshly ordered beans yet, just the 1kg coffee club beans from the stores, which I noticed started to change after 7 days, and after 10 days really noticeable, and barely drinkable. I know they're not as fresh as if I went to a roaster direct, or ordered online but I wanted to play around and get used to the machine first. And I figured they've got to be better than the supermarket beans.
After some experimentation, I've set the grind size to 3.5 and the grind amount the 4 o'clock position, and have made some nice lattes and cappuccinos. I've decided I like the taste more at the upper extraction zone, so 3/4 in the 'ideal' zone. I did adjust the programmed double to a longer duration, at 35 seconds. I noticed the pre-infusion time is about 10 seconds, which seems too long? However when I pulled some manual shots allowing 7-8 seconds of pre-infusion it tasted awful and was under-extracted.
I find the supplied tamp annoying, it's very easy to get uneven tamp. Has anyone here upgraded the tamp, and if so to what? (and where can I buy it?)
I've had the 'clean me' light come on twice, so probably every 10-14 days depending on how many coffees I've made in that time. I need to order some more tablets, are they only available from number on the pack? I'd like to buy some other accessories and prefer in-store rather than online. Only so I can ask the salesperson and be sure I'm getting the right/compatible items.
Also on the topic of cleaning - how often should I do the de-scaling process? Clean the conicle burr grinder? Pull the steaming wand apart and clean? Is there anything else I should be doing regularly, and if so, how regularly?
I'm curious as to what other owners have changed/upgraded and if they're satisfied with the taste/crema etc of their coffees. Overall I'm happy, just want to know if I could be happier
Thanks in advance
Hello, as you have already realised you need to get yourself some freshly roasted beans. When you do, don't leave them sitting in the hopper, try to put in just enough for your coffee making session.
If you buy 1kg lots of fresh beans, get some smaller 250g one valve bags, break 1kg down into smaller lots, squeeze air out of bags and store in cool dark place.
For me, most beans peak around 7 to 10 days post roast then slowly fade over the next week. There are some beans / blends that can be at their best between weeks 2 to 3 though.
Fresh quality beans, quality grind and some hot water makes nicer coffee than stale beans used in any piece of equipment.
The Breville user manuals are pretty good at explaining all basic maintenance that needs to be done......
It would appear that you will want a 54mm tamper. I'm not sure what is available locally for that size (expensive customs excluded) so you might have to hit up eBay. Go for stainless, not aluminium, IMO.
There's one available from Breville for under ten bucks; search for "54mm Tamper" on their site (as a non-sponsor, I can't direct link to them) but it looks unergonomic as hell, so I'd have a look around first.
You'll find a big difference when you get some decent beans (as opposed to CC, if their coffees are anything to go by).
Besides that, practice and technique
Under extracted or over extracted, it doesn't make much difference with stale coffee on this machine. Whatever comes out is only fit for lattes and will taste yucky without milk and you'll always get uneven pours.
You've already answered your own question, so you must start using fresh beans to advance yourself.
With fresh beans you'll probably find the grind falls somewhere between 8 and 12 and the dose amount around minimum or just above minimum. I don't bother with the presets and always go manual.
The tamper is not the best, but you do get used to it in the end and your money is far better invested in fresh beans
I increased the temperature on mine to the maximum and got better results.
Give the grinder a clean when you change over to fresh bean. I find the cleaning cycle lights up after around a 1kg of beans.
Thanks for the replies. Yep I'm on top of the beans issue, and have ordered some online. I'm looking forward to testing
As for the cleaning, yes I run the cleaning program when the light comes on but I'm not sure how often I'm meant to do the de-scaling process or cleaning the grinder. The manual just says 'regularly' which is rather vague. One week? Fortnightly? Monthly? Per 1kg of beans? Or do you clean the grinder and descale when the clean my light comes on too?
Also to clean the grinder, do you run it so there's no beans left? It doesn't damage it to run it empty?
Dragunov21 thanks for the advice about the tamper. The supplied one is awful, but I've worked my way around getting it to work. Was just hoping for something easier and more ergonomic like you said. I'll look on eBay but won't hold my hopes high. I can't imagine the breville one being any good.
Brevillista- I only drink milk based drinks so the coffee bean quality hasn't been too influential, not to the extent they'd have on an espresso anyway. None the less I can notice the flavour, strength. and the amount of espresso that changes as the beans age. I'm planning on sticking with 250g orders however I've ordered sample packs of 500g, knowing I'll waste a fair bit getting the grind and amount right.
I just clean the grinder when I change beans, it doesn't do any damage if the hopper runs empty.
As for the cleaning cycle it comes on very frequently especially if you're flushing to heat up the machine and using the flush to rinse the portafilter too. I think there's some sort of internal counter. Consequently I don't think the machine needs cleaning as often as that clean me light indicates. For me I clean the machine every other time the light comes on and do a dummy clean with no tablet in to get rid of the light.
As for descaling I would think once per annum is sufficient providing you're changing the filters regularly and you don't have a water problem.
In the instructions it says use white vinegar, for me this is a no, no. You definitely don't want vinegar in your machine, better buying some propriety brand or using citric acid.